As a lover of all theme parks, I have a larger-than-average family. So saving money while going to the parks is a huge deal for us. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned while park hopping.
For admission, saving money on tickets is the first stop. If you’re planning a whole trip around Disney World, booking your vacation in advance is a great way to save money. Doing a little research, using a respectable travel agency, and giving yourself plenty of time to book can save money. You’ll see a lower cost in flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. Disney will even let you make payments on your vacation for over a year! So you can plan ahead and get all the perks of the dream vacation.
However, sometimes you’re not looking to wait that long and need quick booking and savings. You can often get a deal on 2 to 3-day packages for any park you hope to visit. Live in the area and wondering if those park tickets are worth the cost? Let me just give you the short answer, yes. As a season passholder it’s worth the cost of the annual pass. This is because certain annual passes offer free parking and 10-20 percent shopping discounts. It really adds up.
The benefit to an annual pass is that this also allows those who have never been able to afford a vacation the chance to do just that throughout the year. We have found this invaluable when work and life get to be too much, and we’re low on funds. Having a Disney or Universal Studios annual pass means we can take a daycation whenever we need. We pack our cooler, grab our thermos’s and head to the parks.
Limited on funds? Buy one premium pass while getting regular or cheaper passes for everyone else. You don’t need everyone to have free parking in the family. You only need one person to pay for all the goodies and theme park merchandise. Regular passes have block-out dates, but those block-out dates are usually for the busier times that a park is open. So that’s really doing you a favor.
Another great way to save money and this may seem like a no-brainer but packing your own food to eat. You can easily get a whole meal for $30 or less for the family, including snacks and drinks. Yes, it may seem worth it to eat inside, but even just grabbing a quick burger can run your wallet. It can go upwards of $12 to $17 a burger, add on taxes, fees, etc. That $12 to $17 easily becomes over $20 for one burger. For a family of 4, that’s $80 a meal. If you eat more than once you’re reaching into hundreds for the day. If you plan on visiting more than one day, you can easily go from $100 to $500 for a couple of days of meals. Most parks allow you to bring outside food, so this a way to really save money.
Packing some sandwiches, bags of chips, and granola bars (or other snacks) will save you a small fortune. It will also give you more money to spend on souvenirs. This leads me to the next way to save money. That wand or those ears can be very costly. There are plenty of souvenir shops around the parks that sell themed merchandise at a fraction of the cost. It might not be theme park quality, but it might do if your kids and are dying for any memorabilia. A T-shirt, a themed bag… this is a great way to let them pick out a few items they’ll love. A souvenir for them and few hundreds of dollars in savings for you.
However, this is where having that annual pass comes in handy. Sometimes you really just want the wand, the robe, or the ears and that $10-$20 discount can really add up. We hope this has given you some ideas on how to save money on your next theme park adventure.